Professional development starts by creating a development plan with your boss. If they don’t approach you, take the initiative to make sure that your career development doesn’t end up at their mercy.
Drill Down to Skills You Can Develop
Once you have ideas for growth paths, discuss what skills you would need to demonstrate in order to be considered for that kind of job. Since it’s probably your boss who will promote you, or who will be your champion within the company, you need to have an idea of how they would decide to recommend you for a job.
They may want you to develop project management, public speaking, leadership, or sales skills. Ask how they would know you’ve acquired those skills. Do they want you to take a class and pass it with a certain grade?
If they want to see you use the skills, ask how you can create the opportunity to demonstrate them. If your boss wants you to develop sales skills, and you think it will take you six months, ask, “Can you send me on a sales call in six months, and come along to watch how I work?” If your sales skills aren’t up to snuff by then, your boss’s observation can help you figure out where you need to work next to master the skills.
Create a Relationship-Building Plan
Not only do many jobs require skills, but they also require relationships. If your goal is to be promoted to Director-level, start noticing who Directors talk to, and about what. Start making an effort to build relationships to similar people, and learn about the topics you’ll be discussing once you’re a director. Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone is a great place to start learning about how to build relationships. Ask your boss for assignments that will help you meet the people you’ll need to meet to make your next career leap.
Ask For Assignments to Develop Skills
If you’re serious about your professional development and your boss doesn’t have any suggestions, it will be up to you to do all the work. Find people in the jobs you someday wish to hold, and ask them how to prepare. What skills do you need? What relationships? What credentials?
If your boss won’t arrange the opportunities to develop those, take matters into your own hands. Seek out assignments you believe will cause you to grow. Take classes on your own. Build relationships.
Now that you’re in the workforce, you need to take control of your professional development. Meet with your boss. Design a plan to build and demonstrate your skills and relationships. If your boss won’t help out, then do it on your own. A career is a terrible thing to waste.
This is Stever Robbins. You can find this episode’s transcript at getitdone.quickanddirtytips.com
I help high-potential leaders plan and develop their careers. If you want to know more, visit http://www.SteverRobbins.com.
Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life!